A dog is considered to be obese if he/she weighs more than 15% of the ideal weight for its age and breed. You could always weigh your pet to know for sure if it is obese. However, you could also get an idea simply by looking and feeling their body. Your dog needs to have a waistline and you should be able to feel its ribs under the muscles but not see them. For your reference, you can find some useful charts for small, medium and large obese dogs here. In addition to that, we will look at some obese dog food recipes and brands that could help your pet shed those extra pounds.
Causes of obesity in dogs
Note that the process of neutering itself is not responsible for excess weight gain in dogs. Having said so, it is worth noting that spayed/neutered dogs are more likely to gain weight. Spayed bitches and neutered male dogs require 20-25% less food after the operation. So do not be misled into thinking that neutering causes weight gain. The only way a dog gains extra pounds is through the food you feed it.
Old age and lack of exercise
Pet parents often think that old dogs do not need too much exercise. However, a good diet and exercise regime can actually rejuvenate an older pet. Elderly pets have 20% lower metabolic rate than younger dogs. As your pet ages, the energy requirements reduce. So reduce the calories you feed your older pet.
Underlying health issues
Dogs love to beg for food. Most dogs have voracious appetites but pet owners must not give in to their demands. Excess hunger could indicate underlying health issues like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome. If you have been giving free access to food to your pet, s/he is bound to eat and resulting in excess weight gain. In the wild, dogs would eat whenever they got food because they never knew when their next meal would be. This is not the case with domesticated dogs.
Breed wise weight gain
Dog breeds like Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Dachshunds are more prone to excess weight gain. So if you own one of these breeds, be sure you feed them wisely and avoid tidbits.
How to deal with morbidly obese dogs
If you have an obese dog at home, then the first thing you must do is reduce its food intake. If your dog continues to gain weight, then, no matter how little food it appears to be fed, even that amount is too much. You have to put your dog into negative energy balance, i.e., keep it starved to ensure that it loses weight. Your vet can prescribe an obese dog diet that is low in calories but still provides your pet with all the nutrients needed to remain healthy.
The obese dog food diet is available in the form of wet, dry and semi moist foods; so you should be able to find something that suits your dog. In the beginning, your pet might not like this food. You can try mixing new food with regular food until it gets used to this obese dog food diet plan.
Points to bear in mind when you put your dog on obese dog diet
Work with your vet
Establish a goal and work with your vet to decide on the final weight for your obese dog. Different dogs will have different aims based on overall health, underlying medical issues, age and breed.
Decide how much to feed
Your vet will recommend the exact calorie needs for your dog. You can also work out a diet plan and exercise regime with the expert.
Avoid feeding treats and tidbits
You might think: It is just one cookie or one treat. Even 40 calories can undo all the efforts of putting your dog on the obese dog diet meal plan. You must be especially cautious about feeding raw hide treats and dental chew sticks which can still add to the net calorie intake. This is especially true for morbidly obese dogs.
Weigh your dog regularly
Once you start your pet on the diet plan, weigh him regularly. You can weigh at home or take him to the vet. Keep records of his weight and make graphs. If he still fails to lose weight, you must reduce his rations by further 20%. Be reasonable in your expectations. Small dogs like West Highland Terriers can lose ½-1lb per week, medium dogs between 1-1 ½ lb per week and large dogs between 1 ½ to 2 ½ lb per week.
Never over-exercise a morbidly obese dog-it can put too much pressure on his joints. As your dog begins to lose weight, you will find that he starts getting livelier and more active.
Make it easy for your pet
Replace a bit of his food with healthier snacks like carrots, bran, vegetables etc. You can also go for proprietary obese dog food which will enable him to eat greater volume while taking in fewer calories.
Bring everybody on board
Tell your friends and family members how important the diet is. All your efforts will go to waste if neighbors keep dropping treats to your dog over the fence.
Know that you are doing your dog a favor
Obesity in dogs can be extremely painful. It can cause arthritis, pain and even premature death. So a momentary pleasure of feeding treats to your dog is certainly not worth it. Dieting is not cruel-it will rejuvenate your dog.
Best obese dog food brands
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Weight Management
This dog food contains real meat, brown rice, flax seeds and sweet potatoes. It provides satiety without increased calories. The formula is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals. This is a vet recommended dog food brand for obese dogs. Picky eaters love the taste and the 30lb bags lasts for several days.
Hill’s Science Diet Weight Management
Over 70% dogs have lost weight with this diet plan in just 10 weeks. Pet parents have rave reviews for this scientifically created formula. It is made in the USA and contains vet approved ingredients designed to give your pet all the nutrients it needs without the calories.
On the downside, some pets had excess drooling and vomiting.
Royal Canin Satiety Support
This food causes satiety which prevents over eating in pets. Most dogs have loved this brand of food. Some small breeds have even lost 2lbs within a month of this dog food, without loss of energy. Some pet owners also felt that this food gave their dog a healthier coat.
We hope these tips help your obese dog lose weight. Always consult a vet before changing your pet’s diet.